Midwestern transplant, Katey Kaiser has been expressing herself through fashion since she walked the halls of her high school. While her friends stuck to the typical uniform — baby tees and low rise jeans — Kaiser dressed against the grain, in Ramones t-shirts and velvet blazers. “Alongside dance, ballet, jazz and tap, it felt amazing to express myself through clothing,” she explained. “I had no hesitation going to college for a textiles and apparel design degree, and when I graduated, I was ready to jump into my professional career.” On a whim, Kaiser landed in Denver after graduation and was immediately drawn to vibrancy and support she found in the creative community. It was here that she became a sleepwear designer, and where Violet Hour Fashion was born. We visited Kaiser’s studio to get a peek at some of her new designs, and to learn why she built her company on the principles of slow fashion.
303 Magazine: How did Violet Hour Fashion begin?
Katey Kaiser: After working in Denver for five years, I was ready to break off on my own and launch my own business. It was always something that I thought about doing, and I was ready to take the plunge. The problem was, what kind of business? Violet Hour Fashion came to be one evening folding my laundry and realizing that all of my pajamas were highly embarrassing. Old college tees, worn out pajama shorts, bird print this and leopard print that. My favorite pajama set was one my mom bought me and always made me feel special when I wore it versus my hodgepodge pajamas. That was the point I realized that I wanted to launch a sleepwear collection that wasn’t trend driven, extremely comfortable and would actually make you feel like an adult!
303: Describe how Violet Hour sleepwear is unique?
KK: Our sleepwear is unique because we focus on novelty and luxury fabrics, quality sewing construction in Colorado and vintage design aesthetics. The ‘violet hour’ is the time of the day when the sun sets and the sky lights up with shades of purple, pink and blue and the perfect time to retire for the evening in comfortable clothing. When you pull out Violet Hour Fashion sleepwear to end your day in, it changes your attitude. It’s the small change of swapping out your old jammies for something that is timeless, comfortable and gives you confidence.
303: What is your process from the time each order is placed to when it is shipped?
KK: We only keep a small amount of inventory for markets and events, so generally all online orders are cut and sewn as they are ordered. When an order is placed online, within the first 1-2 days the patterns are cut and prepared for sewing at our studio. After that, the patterns usually go to our contract seamstress for sewing production or stay in our in house sewing studio for completion. We ship the order to the customer by the fourth day!
303: When did you become aware of the slow fashion movement?
KK: When I launched the collection, my values lined up with the core values of the slow fashion movement, I just didn’t know it at the time. Over the past two years as Violet Hour Fashion has grown, I have become more aware of the slow fashion movement through other US based designers with production stateside. Listening to the dialogue that these designers are having about what it means to be made in America, how tough it is for your bottom line and creating apparel consciously has really made a big impact on Violet Hour Fashion.
303: How do you continually bring the principles of the movement to what you do?
KK: To start, we never over-produce our sleepwear, which means we aren’t adding to the global apparel waste — fast fashion. I launch two collections a year that aren’t trend focused and only discontinue styles when I can’t source the exact fabric anymore. When I have overstock of fabrics, I design new styles with that fabric to move it out of our studio. Lastly, I focus on quality construction with my contract seamstresses and pay them upwards of $15 an hour to sew. I create healthy relationships with our seamstresses, which in turn gives Violet Hour Fashion exceptional quality without cutting corners.
303: What are some of the Colorado companies you work with?
KK: We are growing our retail program this year and are excited to start working with more local stores to carry Violet Hour Fashion. Currently, you can find our collection in Cherry Creek at Spinster Sisters and also in gift shops in RiNo.
303: Where are your favorite places to shop in Denver?
KK: I love bopping into local stores on 6th Ave., South Broadway and Tennyson Street. The new Stanley Marketplace is an amazing source for local boutiques too, and I can’t wait to shop there more!
303: What is the next step for Violet Hour Fashion?
KK: Growing our retail program across the country and gaining more traction on our custom wedding robes. We have some exciting retail opportunities this year that will be a great test for a future brick and mortar Violet Hour Fashion.
Photography by Meg O’Neill.